If you’d rather sit in traffic, make sure you leave at these times — and other tips for the Memorial Day weekend

LOS ANGELES, CA, FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016 - Memorial Day weekend travelers line up at a TSA checkpoint a
An estimated 3.1 million Americans nationwide will fly to their destination over Memorial Day weekend.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

If you plan to take a Memorial Day road trip, timing is everything. More than 36 million Americans will be hitting the road during the three-day holiday on trips of more than 50 miles from home, according to AAA.

About 3.1 million people will fly to their destination and 1.8 million holiday travelers will take trains, buses or a cruise.

Here’s what you need to know before you go.

Road trippers

In Los Angeles, the worst time to travel will be Friday afternoon, according to navigation app Waze, which analyzed last year’s travel times. You can expect the most traffic in the L.A. area from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday through Monday, and 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday.


The American Automobile Assn. said drivers in Los Angeles could expect trips to take almost twice as long if they are on the road between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

The worst drive times in other cities are forecast to be 3 to 5:30 p.m. in San Francisco, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in New York City, 4 to 6 p.m. in Chicago, and 4 to 6 p.m. in Seattle.

The highest gas prices in the U.S. since 2014 shouldn’t scuttle vacation plans for travelers, AAA said in a news release. Gas costs an average $3.72 per gallon in California, with prices for Long Beach and L.A. averaging $3.75. Check out AAA Gas Prices online to see state-by-state breakdowns.

Airline passengers

LAX expects its terminals and roads around the airport to be busiest on Friday when nearly 252,000 passengers and 117,000 vehicles flood the airport and surrounding area, a news release said.


Overall, L.A.’s airport may see 948,000 passengers between Friday and Monday, a 6% increase over 2017.

While you can (and should) leave extra early to get to and from the airport, there are some things you can’t control.

Last year, the most disrupted flight routes during the Memorial Day weekend were on the West Coast, according to a story posted on Quartz. The five most-disrupted routes in 2017:

1. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

2. San Francisco to Los Angeles

3. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) to San Francisco (SFO)

4. Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to San Francisco

5. San Diego International Airport (SAN) to San Francisco


If you plan to rent a car at the airport, the busiest airport pickup locations are expected to be in Orlando (MCO), Fla., Las Vegas, Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles and Kahului, Hawaii (OGG).

Most popular destinations

So where is everyone going? Top Memorial Day travel destinations in the U.S., according to AAA bookings, are:

1. Orlando

2. Seattle

3. Honolulu

4. Las Vegas

5. Anchorage

6. Phoenix


7. Anaheim (home of Disneyland)

8. Boston

9. Denver

10. New York City


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